Thursday, April 30, 2015

I'm In: Me Made May 2015

Ok, I'm signing up--I'm challenging myself to wear one self-made garment every day in May!

What is it you ask?  Sign up here!

I played along unofficially last year, not even really realizing there was more going on behind the scenes, but this time around I think I'm ready to participate for real.  I've been sewing for myself so much more in the last year, and this will be a good test of which items I feel are good enough for the real world :)

I'm going to try to take pictures every day, although they will most often probably be iPhone pics, either bad selfies or taken by my children!  But my goal is to post weekly summaries, since the idea blogging every day about stuff I've already blogged about when it was made is a little overwhelming to me.  Although this will be a good opportunity to get some photos of the things I've sewn that never made it to the blog!

In honor of day 1, I'm wearing the first top I made for myself when we arrived in Japan.  First photo courtesy of my 5 year old, second one taken by my husband :)

This is the Ruby Top pattern (tunic length) from Made by Rae.  After making this first one, I sized the pattern down and have made several different versions, including a dress, adding sleeves and altering the neckline. I prefer this top belted, but there are times when I like it loose, usually with leggings and a cardigan.  Looking back on this piece, I wish I would have used a softer fabric for the yoke--I like the color, but it feels a little stiff with the drapey fabric of the rest of the top.

Matching Map Tops

Who says I can only make matching outfits for my daughter and me?

My husband would probably die if my son and I decided to wear these shirts at the same time, but sometimes the fabric I find appeals to both me and Little Sister, and other times, not as often, it appeals to me and The Boy!

This fabric was another of my 100 yen per meter finds, so I used it to make a Bess Top from Imagine Gnats.  This is the tunic length with the lower neckline.  I sized down from what my measurements said and I'm happy that I did--it turned out figure-flattering without being tight.  The map print on the front is a knit fabric, although not a very stretchy one, and the back is a lightweight woven.

I love being able to use two fabrics on this pattern!  I had a little trouble turning the corner on my shoulder detail (can you see that little pleat at the corner?) but when I made this pattern a second time I followed the directions more closely and it came out just right.

It didn't turn out to be the best day for a photo session but I managed to get a few shots to show you.  The Bess Top is definitely a pattern I can see myself making multiple times!

The Boy's shirt is just a self-drafted tee based on a shirt that fits him well.  The sleeves, pocket, and binding are from an Old Navy shirt of mine that had gotten stained.

This is the temple that's next door to our house.
I make his tops long and narrow, like him.  Gotta keep the top of those pants covered!  Being able to adjust the proportions on a basic tee is definitely a benefit of being a sewing mom.

So this post is probably the only time you'll see us both wearing our shirts, but it's enough for me to know that we have them!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Strawberry Slip Dress

When I spotted this fabric on the knits floor at Tomato in Nippori, I knew I should get it, even though it's much crazier than the stuff I usually sew with.  I didn't know what I would make, but I knew I'd regret it if I didn't bring it home (especially at 200 yen per meter!)  And bonus--it's really soft, a good thickness, and stretches in both directions!

Also a good pic of Little Sister's new short haircut!
When Little Sister spotted it at home, it was love at first sight--she was immediately on me to make something for her out of it.  She started thinking about it and had some specific details in mind--tank top dress, not too long, with skinny straps.

She also wanted to call it the Silly Strawberry dress.

I had printed, taped, and cut out the free Baby Slip Dress pattern from Suburbia Soup a few months ago, but hadn't made one yet.  Even though that pattern is for a woven, I figured I'd give it a try, making a few adjustments for knit fabric.  

 I had cut out a size 4, and if I was making it with a woven I  probably would have made a 5 but since I was using knit I figured the smaller size would be just fine. 

I might add a little more length next time I make this dress.

Really though, this pattern is very flexible and forgiving--you can adjust the gathers to be as tight or loose as you want, essentially making the dress bigger or smaller.  And the free pattern is available in sizes 6 months to 6 years--nice!

The main two adjustments I made to the pattern were 1. to make the back in one piece, and 2. to shorten the straps around the arms by about 2 inches--I used rib knit for the binding as well.  I was a little nervous about being able to get it over her head without the opening in the back, but it was no problem at all.  I didn't even use a stretch stitch sewing on my knit binding--it just didn't need it.

And now I'm one more dress closer to my goal of bringing some new sundresses with us on our trip to Hawaii next week!  Maybe I'll get one done for myself, too!

Oh, and I almost forgot--when Little Sister saw the completed dress, she ran over to me, gave me a big hug and gushed, "THANK you mommy, I LOVE it!"  Perhaps the most excited she's ever been about something I made for her!  It was pretty gratifying, I have to say.  She wore it to school today--I snapped these quick pictures before we left this morning!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Beach Sling Bag

Guess what?  In less than 2 weeks we are headed to Hawaii on vacation!  This month's Project Run and Play theme of a reversible sling bag helped me decide that the kids would definitely need beach bags for this trip.

I followed the free Reversible Sling Bag pattern from SugarBee Crafts pretty closely, only making a few adaptations in order to incorporate the materials that I was using--reusable shopping bags and towels from the 100Y store!  I spent 400 yen on materials, which is a little over $3.  If I'd been in the states, I would have looked for some thrifted towels that were a little more substantial, but this did the trick.

The supplies

The microfiber towel I used for the contrast on the lining had stripes, but I liked this description better ;)

"A soft towel with the feeling that the touch is very sufficient."
I have been wanting to make a towel-lined bag for a long time, and since this easy bag consists of an outer and a lining, I went for it.

I'm experimenting with putting in a jump so that more posts appear on my main page--read the rest after you click, and let me know if you love/hate having a jump!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Vintage Kimono Hanami Dress

A few months ago, I bought a bag of scrap fabric from a store that sells and alters vintage kimonos in my neighborhood.  Mostly, the pieces really were scraps (I have used some to make doll kimonos and a table runner) but there was one piece of an amazing deep purple shibori-dyed fabric that I thought would be large enough to make a girls' dress.

And I was right!

The pattern is the Hanami Dress from StraightGrain Patterns, which I thought was just perfect, as Hanami is the name for the Japanese Sakura (cherry blossom) viewing time which has just come to an end.  So I really wanted to use a Japanese fabric to make this dress!

This panel of fabric was prepped to be made into a kimono, but for some reason was abandoned.  The snips and basting stitches were still present in the fabric:

I'm experimenting with putting a jump into my longer posts so that more posts appear on my main page--read the rest after you click, and let me know if you love/hate having a jump!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lucky #7 Pajamas

I haven't been able to get photos of most of my recent sewing projects other than the quick selfies I've been posting to Instagram, so I was looking through my iPhoto albums to see what projects I hadn't managed to blog about yet.

I made this pair of pajamas for The Boy's 7th birthday, which was in January.  Every time I saw him wearing the pajamas I made for him for his 6th birthday, I was cringing at his bare ankles and belly hanging out, promising myself I would get him some new pj's sewn up.  As a matter of fact, I don't think I ever blogged about those old pajamas either!  I just dug around and found some pics of one of the pairs I made but have no photo evidence of the cute moose pj's.  At least I can show you the Rebel Alliance pj's I made from a clearance Target men's t-shirt and scraps of black and neon green tees from my upcycling pile:

So, I may have been cutting it close on size even when they were new...

I'm experimenting with putting in a jump so that more posts appear on my main page--read the rest after you click, and let me know if you love/hate having a jump!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Little Geranium

I've been sewing lots of gifts lately, which means I can't post what I'm making until they have been given!  But I attended a baby shower last weekend so I can post about this Little Geranium dress now--I'm so excited about it!

The pattern is from Made by Rae, and the 0-3 month size is available for free!  She's a genius, because after making this sweet little dress I am totally interested in buying the pattern that includes big girl sizes as well as lots of modifications.

It was so fun to sew up a little newborn dress though--I didn't really start sewing for Little Sister until she was around 9 months old, and even then I wasn't following patterns, so this was my first time!  I have to hold myself back, because making these tiny little sweet dresses could be addictive, but I know that when my kids were that little I wasn't dressing them up in pretty things very often.  I should be making more practical things like leggings and onesies, but this dress was so fun to make and admire!

To go with the dress, I made a pair of Heirloom Bloomers from This Mama Makes Stuff's free 0-3 month pattern.  Since I used fabric rather than vintage handkerchiefs, I added a little extra length to allow for hemming.  I also did 2 rows of shirring with elastic thread around the leg openings rather than sewing baby elastic on.  They won't hang down so much under the dress when a baby is wearing it, but I wanted to show them off too :)

I was totally in love with this Japanese fabric--it's got a little texture like a linen, but it's softer.  And isn't that cat print just fantastic?  I actually bought it to make something for myself, but couldn't resist turning it into this dress.  I went back to the store to find some more of it for me but it was gone!  Oh well--totally worth it.  And I loved the natural colored cotton crocheted lace trim from my stash with it.

The biggest challenge of this dress for me was the buttonholes.  I had completed this perfect, lovely little dress and I was so afraid I was going to ruin it by messing up the buttonholes!  I usually avoid buttons wherever possible, but I have to say that while they still aren't my favorite, I now know that I CAN do it when I have to.

A better look at the texture of the fabric, too
My Japanese sewing machine came with an automatic buttonhole foot, but for the life of me I couldn't get it to work. I watched a ton of youtube videos in case I was misunderstanding the pictures in my Japanese machine manual (obviously I can't read it!)  I tried making so many practice buttonholes!  Eventually I gave up on the automatic buttonholer and just measured really well and used the manual buttonhole settings.

And they came out fine!

Now I just have to wait for the little one to arrive and hope that it fits her :)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Parade: Heather the Violet Fairy costume!

Today the kids' school had a book parade, where the kids chose a character from a book they have read this year and dressed up to parade around the gym.  Little Sister's recent favorites are the Rainbow Magic Rainbow Fairies chapter books (I have been reading them to her).  She chose Heather, the Violet Fairy, both because it was her favorite color of the rainbow AND because she has the same hair as that fairy (blond and curly with bangs!)  Luckily for me, that fairy also has a pretty simple costume, and the free short sleeved peasant dress pattern in size 4-6 from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom was perfect for it!

I wanted two layers of fabric to give the dress a more ethereal fairy effect, so I chose a silky purple (almost magenta) fabric I found for 100 yen a meter and topped it with a soft lilac stretch lacy fabric. The color came out exactly like the book cover, which is good because was Little Sister ever a stickler for detail!

I'm experimenting with putting a jump in my longer posts so that more posts appear on my main page--read the rest after you click, and let me know if you love/hate having a jump!  I'll show you the book cover so you can see how well I matched this dress up :)